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The Lawsuit Against Montana’s New Illegal Immigrant Restrictions

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Photo courtesy of marsmet481/Flickr

LR-121 was passed by a large majority of the citizens of Montana through the referendum process. In the weeks before LR-121 is set to be implemented (on Jan. 1), the constitutional standing of the law has been brought into question.

“It’s our view that it wasn’t really explained to them what all the parts of it are, how it’s going to work,” explains Brian Miller, one of the attorneys against LR-121, “I think that a lot of people would be surprised to find out for instance that the adoption of LR-121 could lead to the implementation of Real ID in Montana.”

One of the main pieces of  constitutional ammo in the argument is a 1982 court case out of Texas known as Plyler vs. Doe in which the Supreme Court held that “aliens, even illegal ones, are subject to the protection against arbitrary state action contained in the Fourteenth Amendment”

Interview with plaintiff’s attorney, Brian Miller:

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Full text of LR-121 as it appeared on the Nov. 2012 Montana ballot:

AN ACT DENYING CERTAIN STATE-FUNDED SERVICES TO ILLEGAL ALIENS; ESTABLISHING PROCEDURES FOR DETERMINING A PERSON’S CITIZENSHIP STATUS; PROVIDING THAT THE PROPOSED ACT BE SUBMITTED TO THE QUALIFIED ELECTORS OF MONTANA; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE AND AN APPLICABILITY DATE.

LR-121 prohibits providing state services to people who are not U.S. citizens and who have unlawfully entered or unlawfully remained in the United States. Under LR-121, every individual seeking a state service, such as applying for any state licenses, state employment, unemployment or disability benefits, or aid for university students, must provide evidence of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status, and/or have their status verified through federal databases. State agencies must notify the U.S. Department of Homeland Security of noncitizens who have unlawfully entered or remained in the U.S. and who have applied for state services. The costs associated with verifying U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status will vary by agency and cannot be precisely determined. However, on-going costs may include: hiring and training state personnel to use various federal databases; software, hardware and search charges; and information assessment and management costs.

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